News and reviews from the PC and console dimensions

July 2010 Archives

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Clash of Titans, a game based on the recent movie, now is in stores for the Xbox 360 and PS3, Namco Bandai Games America announced.
The game (see screenshots) was developed by Game Republic and licensed by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.
The hero, Perseus, attempts to destroy the god who crushed his family. Perseus also must come to terms with the fact that he was born of both god and man.
In addition to the movie storyline, the game offers additional content. Players can take on the quest solo or with one other player.

Release dates:

  • Capcom confirmed that Dead Rising 2: Case Zero will be available Aug. 31 through Xbox Live Arcade for 400 Microsoft Points. Case Zero will offer a glimpse at what is to come when Dead Rising 2 releases Sept. 28.
  • Sept. 17 is the release date for Lost Horizon for the PC from Deep Silver. Lost Horizon is an adventure game developed by Animation Arts.
  • Burn Zombie Burn will be published by P2 Games in early August via Steam. As expected, in the game players attempt to kill as many zombies as they can before they themselves are killed.
Trailers:
  • 1C Company revealed a trailer for Men of War: Assault Squad. To view the video, visit www.menofwargame.com/assault/files.php.
  • Wargaming.net offers a new trailer looking at the role of medium tanks in its online game World of Tanks. Visit www.worldoftanks.com/.

Let there be music:

  • Deep Silver announced soundtrack contributors for nail'd, an off-road racing game. The lineup includes Raymond Herrera and Christian Olde Wolbers (Fear Factory, Arkaea), Pat Lachman (Damageplan), Wayne Static (Static X), Jamey Jasta (Hatebreed), Stephen Carpenter (Deftones), Jed Simon (Strapping Young Lad) and John Boecklin (DevilDriver).
  • Linkin Park will headline the in-game soundtrack for Medal of Honor, Electronic Arts announced. The song, The Catalyst, will be featured
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Elsewhere:

  • Maid Marian Entertainment, a one-man development team, announced a major update to its free-to-play, browser-based MMO Sherwood Dungeon. Check it out at www.sherwooddungeon.com.
  • Sony Online Entertainment announced a new free adventure service is available, EverQuest II: Extended. The company said the free service includes five years of content. SOE still offers a subscription version of EverQuest as well

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Today I had the chance to speak with Anthony Stevenson, the senior product manager for Madden NFL 11. Anthony and I talked about all the new features in the game and you can click on the link below to listen to the entire interview.

Madden NFL 11 senior product manager Anthony Stevenson

During the interview Anthony and I talked a lot about the new GameFlow feature. Anthony, along with the rest of the Madden team, talk about GameFlow in developer series video below.

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Paradox Interactive released a demo of its upcoming strategy title, Commander: Conquest of the Americas. The game is set to set sail July 30.
For demo links, visit www.cota-game.com/?page=demo.
Commander, developed by Finland's Nitro Games, puts players in the role of a European power trying to conquer the New World. Players will found colonies and make them succeed through trade and resource optimization. See screenshots.
For more information, visit www.paradoxplaza.com.
Elsewhere:


  • Nexon America launched a website for its upcoming free-to-play game Vindictus. The game promises to be a multiplayer online RPG based on a modified Source Engine, which means players can freely interact with the environment. Visit www.vindictus.com.

  • Steamworks will power the PC version of Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days, Square Enix and Valve announced. Steamworks offers auto-updating, matchmaking, achievements, stats and leaderboards. The game will launch Aug. 17 in North America through Eidos. Kane and Lynch find themselves trapped and need to fight their way out of the Shanghai underworld.

  • THQ announced Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine also will ship for the PC in addition to the Xbox 360 and PS3. The game is due in early 2011. A trailer can be viewed at www.spacemarine.com

Here are the last of the team ratings for Madden NFL 11. Below you'll find the ratings for teams in the NFC North and the NFC South, along with preview video for each.

NFC North
Minnesota Vikings - 88 (5th overall)
Green Bay Packers - 87 (T-6th overall)
Chicago Bears - 77 (T-20th overall)
Detroit Lions - 68 (30th overall)

NFC South
New Orleans Saints - 92 (1st overall)
Atlanta Falcons - 83 (12th overall)
Carolina Panthers - 75 (T-23rd overall)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 69 (29th overall)


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The Madden NFL 11 demo will be available for download on the Xbox Live Marketplace and the Playstation Network on Tuesday July 27th. I was able to get early access to the demo and I've had a chance to play it for a few days.

The demo itself is the best Madden has released. You get to play a full game with 5-minute quarters between the Indianapolis Colts and the New York Jets. You can select the difficulty level and have the option to use, or not use, the accelerated clock. You also have game commentary from new play-by-play man Gus Johnson and color commentator Cris Collinsworth.

You will also be able to make a game plan using the new Madden GameFlow feature. This allows you to pick up to 15 plays for each situation (3rd-and-long, 2nd-and-medium, etc.) and the GameFlow engine will pick what play is best. You can also put more emphasis on a particular play by giving it anywhere between one and five stars. So you might want to have a running play in your 3-and-long GameFlow plan, but you might want to only give it a half star or one star so it won't come up often.

GameFlow is the marquee feature for Madden NFL 11; we've been hearing about it for quite some time. And I'm not blown away by it. I understand the idea behind it - NFL coaches don't go into a game with a full 300-play playbook at their disposal. Most NFL coaches have a set amount of plays that they use during a game. And the Madden team is trying to give you that kind of feel.

The other goal was to make the games faster and give you more time actually playing the game. If you spend less time in the play-calling screen, you spend more time playing the game itself.

But I just wasn't feeling the GameFlow. I'm not a person that fears change by any means. But if you're going to change something, like the way I've been picking plays on Madden for almost 20 years, it needs to blow me away. GameFlow just doesn't blow me away.

GameFlow isn't a bad feature, and I'm sure some people will like it a lot, but I will elect not to use it when I get my full version of Madden NFL 11. I like picking my plays for each situation, offensively and defensively. I like the little break in between plays so I can analyze the situation and determine what I should do next. GameFlow gives you the feeling of being in a constant no-huddle.

I know the Madden team wanted to try and make games shorter, but my games are usually quick anyway because I run the ball and use clock. I'm not the type of Madden player that tries to set scoring records every time I play. I don't mind the 13-7 defensive battle. Plus I make use of the accelerated clock, which is a great feature. GameFlow is a good idea, and some players will embrace it, but I just won't be using it.

I also need to mention that if you do use GameFlow, you can always press square (X on the Xbox 360) to pick a play the traditional way. If it's a tight game situation, and you don't want to leave the play-call to the GameFlow engine, you always have the ability to trump GameFlow and make the call on your own.

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Another new addition to the Madden franchise is play-by-play man Gus Johnson; who replaces Tom Hammond. I've never been a fan of Gus Johnson's style. I'm not big on the over the top screaming for a touchdown that makes the game 7-0. But Johnson's style is suited for a video game. The problem is Johnson falls into the same trap that MLB the Show's Rex Hudler falls into - energetic guy that sounds too scripted on the game. Cris Collinsworth on the other hand sounds great, and has sounded great since being added to the Madden booth two years ago. Collinsworth sounds exactly the same on Madden as he does on Sunday Night Football. If you closed your eyes and listened to clips from each, you couldn't tell the difference.

I know it's only the demo and Johnson probably has many more lines of script. But if the demo is any indication, Johnson doesn't sound too hot. I also don't like the fact that Johnson breaks into the J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets chant when New York scores a touchdown. It's a minor thing, but a national NFL announcer should be impartial, not doing team specific chants. Johnson instead should be acknowledging the crowd doing the chant -- not doing the chant himself.

Graphically the game looks great, as it always does, and the Locomotion running system is solid (just like NCAA Football 11's). I'm looking forward to playing the full retail game to see what changes are made to online franchise mode. I haven't heard much as far as additions to it, and that has me a bit worried it went untouched, but I'm holding out hope.

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If you have been itching to try Lead and Gold: Gangs of the Wild West, now is your chance, for free.
Paradox Interactive announced that the game will be available for free this weekend (July22-25) through Steam. The game also is on sale for 50 percent off.
Lead and Gold (see screenshots) is an online shooter with four types of characters. Teamwork is encouraged as players attempt to complete a variety of missions set in the Old West.
Also free:


  • Phoenix Online Studio's long-awaited fan game, The Silver Lining, by fans of the King's Quest series. The first five of the PC game episodes, What Is Decreed Must Be, is available for free download from www.tsl-game.com.

Beta tests:

  • Perfect World Entertainment will launch an open beta for its free-to-play MMORPG Heroes of Three Kingdoms on July 27. Visit http://hotk.perfectworld.com.

  • A closed beta for Freejack, a free-to-play parkour racing game, began July 22, Game Bridger Entertainment announced. For more information, visit http://freejack.gamerkraft.com.

Updates:

  • Games-Masters.com released CABAL Online: Secrets of Radiant Hall, an update to it free-to-play MMORPG. The update allows players to unravel the mystery behind the Phantasmal clan, an evil force threatening the world. Visit www.cabalonline.com.

  • On Sept. 7, NCsoft will release a free expansion for Aion. Assault on Balaurea will allow characters to join together to launch massive assaults on the invading Balaur. Visit www.aiononline.com.

Demos:

  • Matrix Games and Panther Games released a free demo for Command Ops: Battles from the Bulge, a World War II strategy game. Visit www.matrixgames.com. The demo is available from the game's downloads page.

  • A 3GB demo for Arma 2: Operation Arrowhead, a military simulation, is available, Bohemia Interactive announced. Visit www.arma2.com.

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Today 2K Sports finally revealed some information as to how Michael Jordan will be used in NBA 2K11.

Gamers will be able to take control of the greatest player of all-time in "The Jordan Challenge" mode, which will allow users to relive his greatest moments. The mode will allow you play 10 different games from Jordan's historic career.

2K mentioned at least three of the moments in their statement.
- Jordan's 69-point game vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers in March of 1990.

- Jordan's "Flu Game" vs. the Utah Jazz in Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals

- And MJ's final game in a Chicago Bulls uniform. A 45-point performance as the Chicago Bulls closed out the Utah Jazz in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals; thanks to Jordan's game-winning shot.

2K said you'll be able to play as some of the greatest teams ever, including the '85-'86, '89-'90, '90-'91, '94-'95, '95-'96, '96-'97, and '97-'98 Bulls teams.

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2K did not say if it will have other former players on the game as far as his teammates or opponents. But looking at the picture to the right, it appears to me that Toni Kukoc is in the background without a No. 7 on his jersey. I hope 2K is able to lock in some other former players. Playing with the greatest team in NBA history (the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls) would be great. But if it's just Jordan running around with a bunch of nameless, numberless players, it would take away from it a bit. But I assume you'll have an option to edit everything as needed. We'll see how it plays out.

As for the other 7 games you'll be able to play as MJ - I'll give it my best guess.
- Since 2K said the 1985-86 Bulls are on the game, it's safe to say that you'll be trying to score 63 points vs. the Boston Celtics in Game 2 of the 1986 playoffs.

- The inclusion of the 1994-1995 Bulls would indicate to me that the "Double Nickle Game" vs. the New York Knicks will be on there. In only his fifth game back since coming out of retirement, Jordan scored 55 points as the Bulls defeated the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on March 28th 1995.

- The 1996-97 Bulls are represented by the "Flu Game." But that same year also has Jordan's game-winning shot against the Utah Jazz in Game 1 of the 1997 NBA Finals.

- When 2K listed the Bulls teams (which I listed above) it did not show the 1988-89 Bulls. The 1989 Playoffs featured "The Shot." Arguably Jordan's greatest highlight as his free throw line jumper over Cleveland's Craig Ehlo defeated the Cavs in Game 5. I assume 2K will have that game on there even though they did not indicate the 88-89 Bulls as one of the playable teams.

- Game 1 of the 1992 NBA Finals would have to be on there. Jordan connected on six first-half 3-pointers as the Bulls crushed the Portland Trailblazers 122-89. Jordan broke the record for most points scored in the first half of an NBA Finals game by scoring 35. After Jordan hit the sixth 3-pointer, he famously looked toward the broadcast table (which featured the NBC crew of Marv Albert, Mike Fratello and Magic Johnson) and did the now-famous shrug.

- I would like to see MJ's 54-point performance vs. the New York Knicks in Game 4 of the 1993 Eastern Conference Finals. MJ's performance helped the Bulls even the series at 2-2 on Memorial Day 1993.

- For the 10th moment...I'll say Game 4 of the 1993 NBA Finals vs. the Phoenix Suns. Jordan scored 55 points to put the Bulls up 3-1 in the series on June 16th 1993.

EDIT:
An article on CNBC has revealed some more details as far as the "The Jordan Challenge."

According to the CNBC article you will play Game 1 of the 1992 NBA Finals vs. Portland. And if you hit six 3-pointers in the first half Jordan will do the shrug. You will play against the 1986 Boston Celtics and try to score 63 points in Game 2 of that first-round series. And you will try to replicate Jordan's 55 points vs. the New York Knicks in 1995 - in only his fifth game back from retirement.

The CNBC article says there will be two challenges not linked to specific dates. You'll play as Jordan in the 1991 NBA Finals (no specific game indicated) and you will play a 1990 version of Jordan vs. the Atlanta Hawks. The goal will be to hold Hawks superstar Dominique Wilkins to 25 points or less.

CNBC also listed the three moments that 2K released in their statement today. So that only gives us 8 of the 10 moments.

I would guess the last two (which I list above) will be "The Shot" over Craig Ehlo and the Cleveland Cavaliers. And Jordan's game-winning shot vs. the Utah Jazz in Game 1 of the 1997 NBA Finals.

EDIT #2:
Cnet.com had a full list of all 10 of the Jordan challenges, along with the goals for each game. The two games I though would be on there will not be. Instead it will be Game 6 of the 1996 NBA Finals where the Bulls clinched their 4th NBA title on Father's Day. And Game 3 of the 1990 Eastern Conference Finals vs. the Detroit Pistons.

Here's the full list courtesy of Cnet.com:

The Arrival: Jordan made his mark with this 63-point playoff game against a heavily favored Celtics team.
When: April 20, 1986. Game 2, first round playoffs vs. Celtics
Goal 1: Score 63+ points
Goal 2: Shoot 50%+ from the field

69 Points: This time Jordan gets the win by dropping 69 points and putting a dent in the Cavaliers' playoff plans.
When: March 28, 1990. Regular season game vs. Cavs
Goal 1: Score 69+ points
Goal 2: Shoot 50%+ from the field
Goal 3: Win the game

Shootout: Jordan and Dominique Wilkins face off in some of the all-time greatest scoring performances of the era.
When: Any date in 1990. Regular season game vs. Hawks
Goal 1: Outscore Dominique
Goal 2: Hold Dominique under 25 points
Goal 3: Win the game

Bad Boys: Jordan showed the Pistons and the world that no defensive strategy could stop him for long.
When: May 26, 1990. Game 3, Eastern Conference Finals vs. Pistons
Goal 1: Score 47+ points
Goal 2: Win the game

1991 NBA Finals: Jordan silenced the doubters by coming back to thrash the Lakers in these Finals.
When: June 2 thru June 12, 1991 vs. Lakers
Goal 1: Average 31.0+ points
Goal 2: Shoot 55%+ from the field
Goal 3: Win the series

The Shrug: Just to prove a point, Jordan sets the tone for the series by dominating the first half of this first Finals game.
When: June 3, 1992. Game 1, first round playoffs vs. Blazers
Goal 1: Score 35+ points in the first half
Goal 2: Make 6+ threes in the first half
Goal 3: Hold Drexler to under 20 points
Goal 4: Win the Game

Double Nickel: After a stint with the bat, Jordan returns to New York to tear up the Knicks for 55 points and an unforgettable pass.
When: March 18, 1995. Regular season game vs. Knicks
Goal 1: Score 55+ points
Goal 2: Shoot 55%+ from the field
Goal 3: Win the game

Father's Day Victory: Michael ran the table over the entire league but this fourth title would prove to be just as special as his first.
When: June 16, 1996. Game 6, 1996 Finals (last game of series as Bulls won 4-2) vs. Sonics
Goal 1: Score 22+ points
Goal 2: Grab 9+ rebounds
Goal 3: Win the game

The Flu Game: A very ill Jordan still manages to both dominate the game and hit the winning shot in the last seconds of the game.
When: June 11, 1997. Game 5, 1997 Finals
Goal 1: Score 38+ points
Goal 2: Grab 7+ rebounds
Goal 3: Win the game

Michael's Last Dance: With one final resounding shot, Jordan seals both his legacy and the fate of the Jazz's championship hopes.
When: June 14, 1998. Game 6, 1998 Finals vs. Jazz
Goal 1: Score 45+ points
Goal 2: Get 4+ steals
Goal 3: Win the game

So the first question a Bulls fan might ask is - why isn't "The Shot" over Craig Ehlo part of the moments? After thinking about it, and seeing how the goals are setup, the main "moment" of that game was at the very end with the shot over Ehlo. That is what the game is most remembered for. If you're playing the game on NBA 2K11, and went up by 30 points at the half over Cleveland, there's no moment to be had. For example, if you were playing Game 1 of the 1997 NBA Finals (where Jordan hits the game-winner) you would have to purposely keep the game close to setup your moment. I don't think gamers would want to do that. Since you are playing entire games, and not just scenarios, "The Shot" and Game 1 of the 1997 Finals are not conducive to The Jordan Challenge.

Now I could argue that Jordan's last game in a Bulls' uniform (Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals) was a game-winning shot too, and is part of The Jordan Challenge. But that being his last game in a Bulls uniform makes it a little different. Plus the fact that it's a championship clinching game makes it a little different than "The Shot" or Game 1 of the 1997 NBA Finals.

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Turn your imagination and your desire to blow things up loose in Just Cause 2 from Square Enix and Eidos.
The game puts players in the role of secret agent Rico Rodriguez, but he is certainly not on a stealth mission. In fact, the more things he destroys, the better.
Rico is sent to the island nation of Panau to track down his former boss, Tom Sheldon. Sheldon has gone rogue, both with Agency money and intelligence.
Meanwhile, Panau itself is a powder keg with three rival gangs fighting for control. And Rico can accept assignments from any of those factions. The government is run by the ruthless dictator Baby Panay.
The missions take Rico across the breathtaking island with terrains as varied as swank casinos to snow-covered ski resorts to arid deserts. How Rico chooses to complete those missions is pretty open-ended.
Rico can call upon the usual assortment of weapons and explosives to get the job done. (I did find the game stingy with ammunition in some spots.)
What is unusual, in terms of gear, is the wrist grapple and the parachute. With these two devices, players can send Rico scurrying up the side of buildings, attaching to a hovering helicopter or leaping off a bridge.
The grapple also comes in handy as a weapon.
What stunts you decide to try is only subject to your imagination. To succeed, players need to get creative.
Rico also can get from here to there with a wide selection of vehicles (more than 100), even including a motorized rickshaw. He can call upon his PDA for a map of Panau to ease navigation.
A big part of Just Cause 2 is creating chaos wherever Rico goes.
Rico earns chaos points by blowing up government installations, completing missions and through sabotage. The chaos points unlock more game content for the gamer.
For an old-school gamer, it takes a while to grasp the open-ended nature of Just Cause 2. Once you get over that particular hump, the game will keep players coming back for more.
The graphics proved to be stunning.
The game is available for the PC, Xbox 360 and PS3. Computer requirements are Windows Vista or &, a 2.6 GHz dual core CPU, 3 GB or Ram and a GeForce 6ts50/Radeon HD5750 video card.
Give Just Cause 2 a whirl because you will be glad you did.

FNC.jpgToday EA Sports announced that the next addition to the Fight Night franchise will be Fight Night Champion -- set to release in 2011 for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.

EA Sports said in their press release that Fight Night Champion "will set a new standard in sports video games by delivering the most dynamic simulation fighting experience to date, pushing visual boundaries and redefining the single player journey for the category."
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I hope they can follow through with the "redefining the single player journey" part. I love boxing games, but the career modes have been very bland when compared to other sports titles.

"The EA Sports Fight Night franchise has consistently delivered one of the best sports experiences with each iteration", said Andrew Wilson, Senior Vice President, Worldwide Development. "EA Sports Fight Night Round 4 was a genre defining game, and led the way as the industry transitioned to physics-based sports games. Fight Night Champion will again forge new ground and deliver a sports experience unlike anything seen in the genre to date."

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Electronic Arts has announced that the Madden NFL 11 demo, Indianapolis Colts vs. New York Jets, will be released on Tuesday July 27th. The demo will be available for download on Xbox Live and the Playstation network. The demo will feature 5-minute quarters and will allow you to try out the new GameFlow play-calling feature.

The Madden NFL 11 development team has released two new divisional preview videos, along with team rankings, for the NFC East and NFC West.

NFC East team ratings
Dallas Cowboys - 87 (T-6th overall)
New York Giants - 81 (13th overall)
Philadelphia Eagles - 80 (14th overall)
Washington Redskins - 76 (22nd overall)

NFC West team ratings
Arizona Cardinals - 79 (T-15th overall)
San Francisco 49ers - 79 (T-15th overall)
Seattle Seahawks - 75 (T-23rd overall)
St. Louis Rams - 66 (32nd overall)


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Tired of the same old spaceships? Then create your own.
Atari announced the launch of Star Trek Online Architect, which will allow participants to create their own spacecraft and share the design with others. To take part, visit www.startrekonline.com/architect/.
The site will also include a mini-game and a sweepstakes. Prizes will include a replica of the captain's chair, copies of the Star Trek Online (see screenshots) game and Intel Core i7-920 processors. In the mini-game, players compete to assemble a ship as quickly as possible with the provided pieces.
Elsewhere around the gaming universe:


  • The helicopter sim Apache: Air Assault will appear this fall for the Xbox 360 and PS3, Activision announced. The game, developed by Gaijin Entertainment, will put players in control of Apache attack helicopters in a battle against terrorists.

  • It's summer; it's hot. So why not? Nexon America announced beach wear will be available for avatars in its free-to-play Dungeon Fighter Online.

  • New content has been announced for the free-to-play Cabal Online: Secrets of Radiant Hall from GamesMasters.com. Included are two new dungeons, a daily quest system, revamped interface, custom key bindings, improved party searching and more.

  • Another expansion for Field of Glory (previously reviewed here) is available from Matrix Games and Slitherine Strategies. Immortal Fire covers units, armies and tactics from the Classical and Hellenistic eras.

  • The combat game Breach will be delayed, Atomic Games announced. The game now will launch for the PC and on Xbox Live Arcade in January.

  • Upgrades are on the way for Wolf Team, a free-to-play shooter from Aeria Games. In the game, human soldiers battle werewolves. The update will include a streamlined interface, new characters anf for the first time, female soldiers. Visit http://wolfteam.aeriagames.com.

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July 26 has been announced as the alpha test date for Natural Selection 2, an online shooter from Unknown Worlds.
On that day, anyone who has pre-ordered the NS2 Special Edition will gain alpha access. More than 12,000 players have pre-ordered, the company said.
NS2 (see screenshots) is the sequel to the Half-life mod, Natural Selection.
Players take the role of a marine, aliens or commanders and battle in sci-fi locations. Commanders handle the real-time strategy elements of the game: collecting resources, building structures and conducting research.
Visit www.naturalselection2.com.
Elsewhere:


  • The American release of S4 League, an online third-person shooter, was announced by burda:ic. For more on the free-to-play title, visit http://s4.en.alaplaya.net.

  • Tripwire Interactive, developers of Red Orchestra, will publish Teotl Studio's first-person, puzzle-adventure game The Ball. The game won prizes in Epic's Make Something Unreal contest. Visit www.theballthegame.com.

  • Blacklight: Tango Down, a futuristic shooter from Ignition Entertainment, now is available for the PC through Steam, Games for Windows, Impulse and Direct 2 Drive. The game launched recently through Xbox Live Arcade.

  • Square Enix announced Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days will release one week early, on Aug. 17, for the PC, Xbox 360 and PS3. In the game, the criminal duo Kane and Lynch strive to escape the Shanghai underworld after a job goes wrong.

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The gloves come off for venerable agent Sam Fisher as he leaps back into intrigue and action in Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Conviction from Ubisoft.
Like the many earlier games in the series, Conviction is a mixture of stealth, surprise and sudden, violent action. However, Fisher seems more likely to take out an enemy rather than sneak past him this time out.
Also, a smoother control scheme makes this one of the more accessible titles in the series.
The storyline has Fisher acting on his own. He travels to the island of Malta to hunt down his daughter's killer. All is not what it seems, as Fisher instead becomes immersed in a Third Echelon conspiracy that ultimately will result in Fisher saving the day and the nation.
While there is plenty of hand-to-hand combat and gunplay, stealth still plays a vital role. Fisher can avoid detection by sticking to the shadows.
During the game, light and shadow are depicted by having the screen go to black and white. Players can see out of the shadow into the light, but those in the light can't peer into the shaded areas.
To complete his mission, Fisher can call upon the familiar assortment of devices: a snake cam, flash grenades, frag grenades and EMP grenades to knock out electronic devices, Weapon upgrades - fire suppressors, laser sights, scopes, extended magazines - also can be acquired.
Fisher also gets to employ his considerable physical skills. There are walls to climb, obstacles to vault and pipes from which to dangle and surprise enemies.
Two special abilities are "mark and execute" and "last known position."
To use "mark and execute" Fisher must first take down a foe with his bare hands. This move unlocks the ability to mark up to five enemies and then quickly execute them.
With "last known position," guards will focus on where Fisher was last seen until they can determine he is in fact no longer there. An outline of Fisher marks that last known position.
Splinter Cell: Conviction delivers a single-player campaign and various multiplayer modes. Multiplayer includes cooperative, Hunter (eliminate all enemies), Last Stand (defend EMP generator against waves of foes), Face-Off (spy vs. spy) and Infiltration (take out enemies and avoid detection).
The Splinter Cell games always have demanded one use their brain as well as their reflexes. While somewhat more action oriented, Conviction will require players to exercise some gray matter as well.
The game is available for the Xbox 360 and the PC. Computer requirements are a 3 GHz CPU, 4GB of RAM and a Geoforce 8800/Radeon 4870 video card or better.
For information, visit www.ubi.com.

Here are your Madden NFL 11 ratings for teams in the AFC South and North.

AFC North
Baltimore Ravens - 90 (3rd overall)
Cincinnati Bengals - 86 (T-8th overall)
Pittsburgh Steelers - 84 (11th overall)
Cleveland Browns - 70 (28th overall)

AFC South
Indianapolis Colts - 91 (2nd overall)
Houston Texans - 78 (18th overall)
Tennessee Titans - 77 (T-20th overall)
Jacksonville Jaguars - 74 (25th overall)

Division preview videos are below.


Here's LeBron James' first screenshot in a Heat uniform - courtesy of NBA 2K11.

With James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, the Miami Heat will be the chosen team for online cheesers everywhere.

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RPG fans can look ahead to October for Divinity II - The Dragon Knight Saga from Focus Home Entertainment and Larian Studios.
The game, which will be available for the PC and Xbox 360, will include the original adventure "Ego Draconis" and the new "Flames of Vengeance." "Ego Draconis" will be a new version with updated graphics and additional content.
Developers say the game will offer more than 60 hours of gameplay and some 180 original quests.
For more information, visit www.focus-home.com.

Elsewhere:


  • This fall EA will release a downloadable prequel to Dead Space 2. Dead Space Ignition will be offered through Xbox Live Marketplace and the PlayStation Network.

  • EA also announced Dragon Age 2 is under development at BioWare's Edmonton studio. The game will be a sequel to Dragon Age: Origins, which garnered many RPG of the year accolades in 2009.

  • A demo of Disciples III: Renaissance is available from Kalypso Media USA. The demo can be found at FileShack, Fangaming, Worthplaying, FilePlanet, Big Download, Computergames.ro, FileFront and GamersHell.

  • What do you think about 3D gaming? The S-3D Gaming Alliance wants to know and is offering a chance at prizes to those who complete a survey on the subject. To take part, visit www.mtbs3d.com and select U-Decide from the top menu.

  • Urbana-based Radiangames announced is second game, Radiangames Crossfire, is available for $3 (240 Microsoft points) through Xbox Live Indie Games for the Xbox 360. The arcade shooter allows players to "warp" from the top of the screen to the bottom, or vice versa, at any time.

Prior OSU.jpg

NCAA Football 11 is back for another season with a new look and new features that are much welcomed.

120 ways to win. That's one of the slogans for NCAA Football 11 as new offenses, and tweaks to existing offenses, have been added for this year's title. NCAA 11's TruSchool System factors in not only the offenses that a school would run, but the tendencies as well. You'll be able to run offenses like the no-huddle spread, pistol and the air raid in a realistic fashion. Playing as Illinois I got a first-hand look at Missouri's no huddle spread -- and it wasn't pretty. Missouri had me on my heels the entire game with their up-tempo offense. I would guess run, they passed. I would guess pass, they hit me with a draw for 10 yards. Trying to defend it was a nightmare, but it's also the type of challenge us gamers are looking for. Anyone who plays sports games quickly gets bored of winning every game 49-0. The AI offenses this year, especially on Heisman level, are very tough.

One reason offenses are very tough is the running game. I talked about Mizzou and how their no-huddle spread had me on my heels. I was so worried about the run because the blocking of the offensive line has been greatly improved due to Real Assignment AI. When you select a running play, your team lines up and you'll see play art pop up showing you which blocking assignments your linemen (or fullback and tight end) will have. Running draws and tosses are much more effective this year. As someone who loves to run the ball, this feature was music to my ears. And once I started running draws, for actual positive gains, I was thrilled. Then I realized the double-edged sword -- AI offensive linemen block just as well. So it's definitely a challenge to stop the running game on defense this year, especially with the AI mixing up their play calls the way they do. I've also noticed that on 4th-and-short situations the AI goes for it more than in previous years.

Bama:Penn.jpg

Improved blocking isn't the only change made to the running game. NCAA 11 introduces the new Locomotion System which gives you more control of your running back. On the right stick, instead of just flicking up to truck over a defender, you'll use the right stick to determine how much your player will lean forward. Hold the right stick up and your running back will completely lower his pads. If you don't hold the right stick at all, he'll remain upright. The more you press the stick up, the more your running back will lean. The new Locomotion system gives you more control of your running back, from jukes to being able to stop on a dime while a defender blows by on an attempted tackle. But as with the improved blocking, the AI running backs can pull off these new moves as well.

When it comes to the actual running, players in this year's game make smooth strides and won't look like they're galloping at times. The sprint used to be a 4-step animation; now a player can sprint for 60 yards before the animation starts again.

On defense tackling seems to be much harder. AI running backs and wide receivers break lots of tackles and it can get frustrating. And even when you engage a running back, they still seem to fall forward for an extra yard or two. Now this could be due to the fact that the team I'm playing with (Illinois) absolutely stinks. When I played the demo, which featured far better teams, the missed and broken tackles weren't nearly as bad.

The difference between how the AI secondary reacts vs. how your AI secondary reacts is something that is still a problem in the game. When you're on offense and you release the ball with your quarterback, the AI secondary is reacting. By the time the ball gets to your wide receiver you'll have 2-3 AI defenders in on the play. But when the AI quarterbacks throw a pass, your secondary is slow to react. I've had times where the opposing team would complete the pass and my AI secondary is still running upfield, completely unaware that a pass has been completed. Now this could just be the difference between playing on Heisman vs. All-American, but it's still frustrating when you make the right throw only to have the AI secondary make a play they had no business making.

Momentum is also a huge factor in how a game will play out. If you fall behind early, and you have to pass your way back into the game, you're playing right into the AI's hands. Their blitzes are more effective and they seem to do everything right. But if you can get ahead, it seems much easier. My strategy for years when playing football video games was to play defense first and take the kickoff to start the second half. Not anymore. If I win the coin toss in NCAA Football 11, I choose to receive so I can try to go up 7-0 early. Momentum makes a big difference, just like last year's game.

UCLA:ASU.jpg

As soon as you pop in your copy of NCAA 11, you'll notice a difference in the presentation. The menu screens have been completely changed for this year's game. The biggest difference is the incorporation of ESPN and their presentation of college football. When you start a game you'll hear the ESPN college football jingle as the matchup (teams and logos) are shown to you on a stage that resembles an on-site studio. With recruiting, which I'll get into later, you'll see the ESPNU top 150 prospects in the nation. You even have a ticker at the bottom giving you live scores from sporting events with the ESPNHD logo on the lower right. I thought that was a nice little touch. You still have Brad Nessler and Kirk Herbstreit in the booth and Erin Andrews on the sidelines. Lee Corso is no longer part of the broadcast team.

College football is about atmosphere and that feeling you get when you know it's Saturday in the Fall. NCAA 11 has made more of an effort to capture that this year. All teams will have their pregame run-outs and 30 teams will have their own specific entrances. Clemson will touch Howard's Rock and Notre Dame will hit the 'play like a champion today' sign. When you make a nice play you'll see the replay from the new broadcast angle. This is a replay that will cut to different angles for the duration of the play. For example, if you complete a 50-yard touchdown pass, the camera will show the quarterback taking the snap and stepping back for the pass. After the pass, the camera will cut to the receiver catching the ball. If the receiver makes a move to shake a tackle, the camera will then cut to the receiver running upfield for a touchdown. This type of replay can also be saved for your highlights along with all the other angles, wire, reverse sideline etc... A wider variety of fans, before and during the game, adds to the overall presentation as well.

One of the reasons NCAA Football is my favorite sports franchise is recruiting. To me it's the game within the game. And sometimes landing that 5-star recruit can be more satisfying than nailing a game-winning field goal as time expires. NCAA 11 features an all new point-based recruiting system. Some aspects of recruiting are still the same. You'll still have 10 hours per week to spend on recruits and you still have to unlock a prospects interest in such topics as pro potential, conference prestige and television exposure. What's different is how you approach the call. In previous years you would call a prospect and you could spend two, maybe three, hours on the phone with one prospect. Now the longest you can be on the phone with a recruit is one hour.

Prospect.jpgThe call is broken into topics and each topic is 10 minutes. You can choose up to six topics per call -- one hour time limit. When the call starts a topic will randomly pop up. When the topic is selected you will have a few options. Let's say the topic that comes up is championship contender. You can make a pitch to the prospect, gauge the prospect's interest, compare your school to a competing school, change the topic or make a promise. If you're strong in the topic that comes up, you'll want to make the pitch or find out how important it is to the prospect. If it's an area your school is weak in, you can change the subject or make a promise instead of discussing the topic. A topic can be avoided in a few ways. Offering a scholarship is one way, but you can only do it once. You can make a promise, but you can only make three promises during the recruiting period. Or you can change the topic, but you can only do that once per call. If you choose to avoid a topic, like championship contender, the topic will go back into the pool and could come up again in the same call.

The goal of the call is to accumulate the most points possible. And if necessary, take points away from an opposing school. When you look at the recruit's Top 10 school list you'll see how many points your school is ahead or behind. Your recruiting strategy will change depending on whether you're No. 1 on a recruit's list or No. 4. If you're on top of the list, you'll just try to rack up as many points as possible to seal the deal with your prospect. If you're behind, you should compare your school to the schools ahead of you and try to take points away from them. But you can only do that if you have an advantage in a particular area. For example, if the topic is championship contender and you're Northwestern competing for a recruit with Ohio State, you can't compare in that instance. Ohio State is far superior in that area. So when it comes to recruiting with a less prestigious school, you're not going to have many advantages. So you'll have to pick and choose your recruits wisely. NCAA 11 now features difficulty levels for recruiting. Just like gameplay, you can choose freshman, varsity, All-American and Heisman level recruiting. I love the new recruiting system. I feel it adds a new level of strategy that fans will enjoy.

With so many changes made to recruiting this year I decided to make a video to show how it works. In this dynasty I'm Northwestern and I was in Week 4 of my first season. Click on the video links below to get a better idea on how recruiting will work in NCAA Football 11.


Another feature that I will be taking full advantage of in NCAA 11 is Dynasty Wire. Dynasty Wire allows you to write recaps and previews for your team in your online dynasty. You can also save five highlights from each game along with five photos. All you have to do is sign up for an account at the NCAA Football 11 online dynasty site and you'll be able to create your stories right on your computer. You can also pick which highlight you'd like as the lead with your recap, as well as delete uploaded media you do not want to keep.

rsz_11online1.jpg

Participants in your online dynasty will be able to read your stories, comment on them, and view your saved highlights. The Dynasty Wire feature can be accessed through your console or online from a computer or phone. The NCAA 11 team did a great job making this feature completely seamless. What you type in on your computer shows up exactly the same on your console. Players that are not in your online dynasty can also view your league page and stories as well. But you do have the option of making your league private so no one outside your dynasty can view it.

But if you're like me you'll want to show off that game-winning touchdown. And NCAA 11 provides you with ways to share your stories, and highlights, with the ability to post them directly to Facebook and Twitter. I've already created a Twitter account just for my online dynasties. You can follow my online dynasties on Twitter at twitter.com/NCAADynasty.

Online Dynasty debuted in NCAA 09, and it continues to be the best online experience in sports games. The addition of Dynasty Wire takes it to another level. My only disappointment was that online leagues were not expanded from the current 12-team maximum. I would have liked to have seen it go up to 14 or 16 teams. Hopefully we'll see an expansion for next year's title.

Now the Dynasty Wire feature only applies to online dynasty mode, not offline. But you can start just a 1-team online dynasty if you would like to take advantage of the new online features, like online recruiting. You can recruit from the computer in online dynasty this season. So you can knock out your recruiting while you're at work, then come home and play your game. All the options for recruiting on the console are also available for online recruiting. You'll also be able to look at conference standings, statistics and the Top 25 from your dynasty website as well.

But some tweaks will need to be made for the website version of the online dynasty. In my online dynasty with Illinois the record hasn't been updated as I'm still listed as 1-1, even though I'm 2-2. With recruiting, if your internet cuts out, or you get a server error, it will end the call as is. I was recruiting a prospect on the computer and I selected the option to schedule a visit. When I clicked the button I got an error message from the server. After I refreshed it told me I could no longer call the prospect and the visit went unscheduled. An error like that could cost you your recruit. Now I am obviously playing this pre-launch, so hopefully these issues can be addressed by Tuesday's release.

Maryland.jpgNCAA 11 also has the option of purchasing more commissioner slots for online dynasty. As with last year's title, you can only be the commissioner of one league. Now this doesn't mean you can't be in multiple leagues. You always have had the option of joining as many other dynasties as you want, and still do. But if you like to be the one that runs the show, you can purchase more commissioner slots that would allow you to run up to three and five online dynasties.

For example, I'm going to be the commissioner of the dynasty that my friends and I will be doing for a third straight year. But I also want to do an individual dynasty and take full advantage of the Dynasty Wire features. So I purchased the 'be the commissioner of three dynasties' DLC. This now gives me the ability to run my 12-team dynasty and my own individual dynasty online, while accessing all the features at dynasty.easports.com. To be the commissioner of three dynasties costs 800 Microsoft points ($10 for PS3) and to be the commissioner for five dynasties costs 1200 MS points ($15 for PS3).

My favorite part about Dynasty Wire is the ability to save, and keep, the highlights from every game. When it comes to uploading highlights to easportsworld.com, you are limited to just five total highlights. So when you decided to upload highlight No. 6, you had to remove one of the previous five you saved. This does not apply to Dynasty Wire. With Dynasty Wire you can save five highlights and five photos from every game of the season -- for 60 seasons. That means if you're in season 10 of your online dynasty and you want to write a retrospective on your Heisman-winning running back from year 4, you can do that. And you'll be able to use the saved highlights from the previous seasons to go along with your retrospective.

"I think we figured it out. If you have 12 users, over 60 years, 13 games a season, saving 15 highlights, by the end of it all you could have over 14,000 different highlights to choose from," NCAA Football 11 designer Ben Haumiller said. "Obviously that's the far extreme case, but once you're going there's gonna be a lot of different things to choose from."

Click on the link to listen to my full interview with NCAA Football 11 designer Ben Haumiller.




Let's say you want to compare your season-5 championship team to your season-12 championship team. With Dynasty Wire you can create the story and pull any saved highlights you have from those years. You can do so much with it, and the ability to save an insane amount of highlights makes this my favorite addition to the game.

NCAA Football continues to be my favorite sports franchise. The improved running game, new recruiting and Dynasty Wire are great additions to this year's game. But if you're playing on Heisman level -- beware. The offenses are tough. And while it can be frustrating at times, overall it's a welcomed challenge.

Iowa:ISU.jpg

Good to see MJ on the cover of a video game again. "The Greatest Of All-Time" indeed. We'll see about NBA 2K11.

Jordan Xbox.jpg

legends.jpg

Tournament of Legends, exclusively for the Wii, now is available in stores, Sega of America announced.
The game (see screenshot) is a weapon and magic-based 3D fighter. Featured are one- and two-player fights with a wide array of weapons and more than 40 magical attacks. Players can battle lions, snakes, Jupiter's Storm, Thor's Fury and more.
The game, which is rated Teen, retails for $29.95.

Elsewhere:

  • A registration site is available for Fallout Online from Interplay Entertainment. The upcoming multiplayer RPG will bring to live the post-apocalyptic world made popular in the game series. To register, and get a leg up on beta testing, visit www.fallout-on-line.com.
  • The free-to-play PC game League of Legends from Riot Games will start Season One on July 13. The game, which is said to have been inspired by the Defense of the Ancients map from Warcraft III: The Frozen Zone, pits two teams of 1-5 champions in a battle to destroy the other team's "nexus." Visit www.eu.leagueoflegends.com.
  • Ignition Entertainment announced that its futuristic shooter, BlackLight: Tango Down, now is available for the Xbox 360 through the Xbox Live Arcade for 1,200 Microsoft points.www.ignitionent.com.
  • Combat Arms, the free-to-play first-person shooter from Nexon America, announced its 22nd map, Dark Forest.

Broncos.jpg

Here are the Madden NFL 11 preseason ratings for the teams in the AFC West.

San Diego Chargers - 85
(10th overall)
Denver Broncos - 78
(19th overall)
Oakland Raiders - 71
(27th overall)
Kansas City Chiefs - 71
(27th overall)

Bills.jpgThe Madden NFL 11 team has released the rating for team in the AFC East.

New York Jets - 89
(4th overall)
New England Patriots - 86
(8th overall)
Miami Dolphins - 79
(17th overall)
Buffalo Bills - 67
(31st overall)

Looks like the Bills are one spot away from being the worst team in the game. Check out the preview video for the AFC East.

A video has been released for the upcoming Close Combat -- Last Stand Arnhem from Matrix Games, Slitherine Strategies and Strategy 3 Tactics.
The game is expected to be released this month.
The video focuses on the start of the campaign in the Eindhoven area. Allied forces attempt to secure bridges and keep open "Hell's Highway."

Elsewhere:


  • Free-to-play game portal GamersFirst launched Sword 2. The game is described as a hybrid MMO blending real-time strategy elements with a role-playing game.

  • A closed beta for Heroes of Three Kingdoms from Perfect World Entertainment will launch July 13. To sign up, visit http://hotk.perfectworld.com.

  • Kalypso Media USA announced a "Galactic Giveaway" for the upcoming release of DarkStar One: Broken Alliance. Visit www.darkstarone.com.Among the prizes is a Broken Alliance custom-skinned Xbox 360.

  • Field of Glory, which was reviewed here recently, has got and update that includes 18 new battles and various fixes.

  • On Aug. 3, new downloadable content will be offered for BioShock 2 from 2K Games. Protector Trials will be single-player in which Big Daddy defends his Little Sister against swarms of Splicers.

CCR.jpgHarmonix and MTV Games announced today that a DLC pack of Creedence Clearwater Revival songs will be coming to Rock Band. CCR's debut track pack will be available for download on July 6th for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and Nintendo Wii.


  • "Bad Moon Rising"

  • "Born on the Bayou"

  • "Down on the Corner"

  • "Fortunate Son (Original Version)"

  • "Green River"

  • "I Heard It Through the Grapevine"

  • "Lookin' Out My Back Door"

  • "Proud Mary"

  • "Run Through the Jungle"

  • "Travelin' Band"

  • "Up Around the Bend"

  • "Who'll Stop the Rain"

The entire track pack will cost $19.99 (1600 Microsoft points) or the can be purchased individually for $2 (160 Microsoft points, 200 Wii points).

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from July 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

June 2010 is the previous archive.

August 2010 is the next archive.

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